The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – January 4, 2019

A. Well…

…actually things aren’t really happening. Except for the start of NCAA season. And it’s been kind of nice. The headlines on USAG’s site are about things like Morgan Hurd harmlessly visiting a gym instead of, you know, a golf ball being named Senior Vice President of Slapping Your Dumb Daughter in Her Stupid Face, or whatever they’re usually up to over there.

Oh, there is Maroney’s lawsuit being put on hold because of USAG’s Chapter 11 filing (that sound you hear from USAG is mwahahahaha), and the misconduct allegations against Sergio Galvez, who was head coach of the national tumbling team until October, and…

Damn it. Ruining it. Ruining it. Ruining it.


B. Kenzo is our prince

Kenzo performed a perfectly accurate rendition of Mai’s floor routine, complete with choreography and leaps, and it was delightful, would score amazingly, was clearly practiced A LOT, and he’s the hero of the world. If everyone were Kenzo, there would be no war, is what I’m saying.

“What a glorious delight! What beautiful, harmless joy! We must destroy it!” said a couple internets.

So, a few people got their swimsuit areas in a bunch because heaven forbid a grrrrr men’s sport be blah blah blah yuck girly dancing or whatever.

I find the premise of the entire argument about whether men’s floor should have music kind of exhausting. Do I watch a typical men’s floor routine and think, “I wish you were Kyle Shewfelt?” Sure. Obviously. I’m a human being, aren’t I? But do I watch a typical men’s floor routine and think, “I wish this had music?” Not really.

But when a guy shows floor with music like this, and he’s into it and wants to do it…it’s AWESOME.

The issue is not that men’s floor needs to change to be more like women’s floor. They’re separate events, in separate sports, both with value. The problem is the artificial gendering of these two different sports, that girls get funneled into one and boys into the other. Gymnastics as a sport should be encouraged to embrace the differences between MAG and WAG, rather than trying to smoosh them into one another—but get rid of those names. Have men’s and women’s divisions of both of these two sports, for the boys who desperately want to BEAM like sensible gentlemen, for the girls who loved that tumbling stuff but leave gymnastics the second it starts to get too…ugh girly and stupid and sparkles and leos and dancing and yuck, and for those who just want to define their sport for themselves without being told which one they’re supposed to do.

The idea that your gender should have any bearing on what apparatuses you’re allowed to do (because WOMAN-ELEGANT and MAN-STRONG) is uncomfortably old-fashioned. So if we’re going to continue talking about gymnastics finally leaving the 1970s…let’s talk about it.

C. Kristal Effing Uzelac

Guys. The 1999, 2000, and 2001 junior national champion Kristal Uzelac (now Bodenschatz, but as we all know you don’t get to have married names in gymnastics, you are Kristal Uzelac forever) is returning to competition and will be competing at the Buckeye Classic, an elite qualifier, in February. I know. I know.

If you’re new and don’t know what this means or how to feel about it, imagine it’s 2033 and Bailie Key up and announces that she’s returning to elite. That’s what this is.

D. Upgrades

USAG has delivered upgrades the women’s team is working on right now, including a Nabieva from Olivia Greaves and a real-life, non-bad Bhardwaj from Sunisa Lee.

We also need to talk about what you’re going to do if Trinity Thomas whips out that pass in an NCAA meet…

D. Ragan Smith

In later signing news, Ragan Smith ultimately did sign with Oklahoma but will defer entry until the 2021 season in order to go for Tokyo.

Smith has been verbally committed to Oklahoma for 18 forevers, but we were unsure whether she would actually sign during this period or wait it out and see what happens—like Morgan Hurd and Riley McCusker are doing, two other gymnasts in the same year who did not ultimately sign in the November period.

E. Also, you know, NCAA

But actually the most important thing that’s happening—today, in fact—is the start of the 2019 NCAA gymnastics season. We’ve been waiting for quite some time. Not patiently, either. For those who style themselves as elite-only watchers, I have no interest in selling you on anything, but this site had its origins in NCAA-only commentary, and I’m going to be talking about NCAA a whole damn lot for the next four months (and the last two months), so deal.

If following along, check out the links and notes for the first week of competition, then check back when the first meet begins for more live blogs than you can handle.

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